Scott Walker

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signs a right-to-work bill into law Monday in Brown Deer, Wis. (AP Photo/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Mike De Sisti)

By Philip Rucker
March 9, 2015 at 9:22 PM

President Obama, in a rare move that inserted himself directly into Republican presidential politics, issued a statement Monday night sharply criticizing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for signing a right-to-work bill into law that marks a major blow to organized labor.

The Wisconsin law, which prohibits unions from collecting mandatory fees from workers who are not union members, was signed into law on Monday by Walker, who is preparing to run for president in 2016 and has recently surged to the top tier of Republican contenders. Walker’s crusade against public-sector unions four years ago made him a national GOP star.

Obama rarely comments on state laws, but by wading into the Wisconsin debate he may help Walker in the crowded Republican primary campaign by elevating the Wisconsin governor above the other likely GOP candidates.

In his statement, Obama said the “anti-worker law in Wisconsin will weaken, rather than strengthen workers in the new economy.”

“Wisconsin is a state built by labor, with a proud pro-worker past,” Obama said. “So even as its governor claims victory over working Americans, I’d encourage him to try and score a victory for working Americans — by taking meaningful action to raise their wages and offer them the security of paid leave. That’s how you give hardworking middle-class families a fair shot in the new economy — not by stripping their rights in the workplace, but by offering them all the tools they need to get ahead.”

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